Fiery QB Shawn Gallagher leading Canyon football to solid start

Canyon's Shawn Gallagher (7) reaches forward as he carries the ball through a tackle by Simi Valley's Tucker Nicklas (54) during a football game on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

It was just one play, but it told spectators everything they needed to know about Canyon junior quarterback Shawn Gallagher.

After a winless Simi Valley team had just taken a two-point lead in the third quarter last Friday, Gallagher marched the Cowboys down to the Pioneers’ 11-yard line.

Gallagher took a read-option to the left and was met by a defender a few yards shy of the goal line, but kept his feet moving and just snuck the ball in for a touchdown.

The Cowboys (3-2) wouldn’t trail again the rest of the night.

“That’s Shawn Gallagher for you right there,” said Cowboys coach Rich Gutierrez. “He’s a Canyon Country kid and that’s what I love about him. He constantly fights and that drives his teammates. I especially love the emotion he plays with.”

That emotion was displayed by Gallagher prior to his go-ahead touchdown, as his strut up and down the sideline consisted of equal parts batting his teammates on the helmet to pump them up and calling for more plays featuring him on the run.

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“You’ve got to be passionate about this game if you want to succeed,” Gallagher said. “It’s good to get hyped on the sidelines and everything as long as you’re under control.”

Like Gutierrez mentioned, Gallagher’s a Canyon Country kid through and through. Once under center for the Canyon Outlaws as a youth player, Gallagher has the Cowboys receiving votes in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 poll as they enter Foothill League play next Friday against West Ranch.

Canyon’s Shawn Gallagher (7) pushes off a tackle by Simi Valley’s Dylan Fuentes (11) during a football game on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“Being a leader and the quarterback, there’s definitely a lot of weight on my shoulders, but I’m excited for that responsibility,” Gallagher said. “It doesn’t just happen with me, though. I don’t go anywhere without the rest of my guys.”

Gallagher surpassed John Bones to win the team’s starting quarterback job over the summer and his intensity is just one of the many reasons Gutierrez has stuck with him.

“We always like to say (Gallagher) has a middle-linebacker mentality at quarterback,” Gutierrez said. “When you don’t play with your heart and soul and don’t have that emotional component, it can be tough to get people to follow you.”

Gallagher hasn’t had much trouble getting his teammates behind him, mostly because they carry a winning record, but also because he’s been playing with most of them since middle school.

“We kind of knew Shawn would get to this point someday,” said center Max Graham, who estimated he’d been playing with Gallagher for six years. “He’s always played with that kind of emotion. It definitely hypes us up.”

Gallagher’s dual-threat playing style has also helped win over the hearts of teammates.

“It’s nice to play in front of a mobile quarterback like that who has so much energy,” junior tackle Justin Swanson said. “He keeps us on our toes because the play is never dead.

“We also know if he gets into a one-on-one spot, he’s going to win it.”

If there were any doubts about that, he put them to bed when he plowed through the Simi Valley defender for his rushing score in the victory.

Behind Miles Fallin, Canyon rattled off four preleague wins last year but were winless in Foothills play. It’ll be up to the fiery Gallagher to help prove this year’s hot start was more than just that.

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